Rags To Riches: Celebs Who Turned Their Pain Into Their Passion

November 19, 2011  |  
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Everyone has a past and a story to tell, but for public figures that spend most of their time in front of a camera or microphone spilling the beans on their past hits the ears of millions of people worldwide.  However, their courageous act to speak out about their childhood proves that your past does not predict your future.

Take a look at these 8 celebrities who gained success despite their painful past….

1. Michael Jackson

Who doesn’t know Michael Jackson? He is considered the greatest performer of all-time. Michel Jackson never enjoyed his childhood days, he was too busy recording songs, rehearsing, and performing. Even if he wanted to play with his friends, his father wouldn’t allow him and he would beat him if he refused to practice his music.  The resentment he felt for his father, and at times hate, followed him the rest of his life. Because he never had a taste of a “normal” childhood, full of playing and imagination, he built his own “Never Never Land”. He enjoyed his time with the kids who visited the ranch and although he was sued of child molestation but later acquitted, MJ continued to be the best artist of all time.

2. Oprah Winfrey

When Oprah was 9 years old, she was lived in Milwaukee under the supervision of her 19-year-old male cousin who sexually abused her. She was then abused by a family friend and an uncle a couple of years later, followed by ongoing abuse that she kept silent about.  Currently, most people know Oprah as one of the most iconic faces on TV as well as one of the wealthiest and most successful women in the world. Oprah faced a hard road to get to that position, however, enduring a rough and often abusive childhood as well as numerous career setbacks including being fired from her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for TV.”  Well, after taking the #1 spot 4 times over the past 7 years on the Forbes “Celebrity 100” list, she definitely has the last laugh.

3. Tom Cruise

Speaking to Parade magazine, Cruise said of his father, Thomas Cruise Mapother III, “He was a bully and a coward – the person where, if something goes wrong, they kick you. … It was a great lesson in my life, how he’d lull you in, make you feel safe and then, bang!”.  When Cruise was 12, his mother left his father, taking Cruise and his sister Lee Anne with her. Ten years later, when his father “was in the hospital dying of cancer, and he would only meet me on the basis that I didn’t ask him anything about the past.”  Despite his tumultuous and abusive past, Cruise turned out to be an amazing and uber successful actor and father of his own children, two with Nicole Kidman and one with current wife, Katie Holmes.

4. Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry has worn a lot of hats in his 41 years, including actor, director, producer, and writer. And recently he came out about one more: survivor of childhood abuse. In an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show, Perry said he experienced severe emotional and physical abuse from his father. In addition he was sexually abused by four other adults.  “It was a living hell,” he said of his childhood.  But now he’s coming forward with all the brutal details in an effort to liberate himself emotionally, and to lend support to others who may have experienced, or may be experiencing, childhood abuse.

 

 

5. Halle Berry

Halley Berry, 44, finally opened up to CNN about her childhood growing up with a violent, abusive father, who used to beat her mother. “I think I’ve spent my adult life dealing with the sense of low self-esteem that sort of implanted in me. Somehow I felt not worthy,” she told CNN. “Before I’m ‘Halle Berry,’ I’m little Halle….a little girl growing in an environment that damaged me…I’ve spent my adult life trying to really heal from that.” To honor her mother, Berry has been working with the Jenesse Center, a Los Angeles women’s shelter that helps families torn apart by domestic violence. “I have a spot in my soul that understands the devastation that this causes a family and how hard it is to rebuild your self-esteem when you’ve suffered,” says Berry.  Berry has a young daughter and is currently dating French actor, Oliver Martinez.

 

 

6. Christina Aguilera

Christina struggled with childhood abuse and used her songs as an avenue for healing.  She says she and her mother experienced abuse from her father, and that the song ‘I’m Okay’ on her album ‘Stripped’ is about her experience of domestic violence. She also said that she and her mother stayed in domestic violence shelters when she was growing up and still visits and volunteers at shelters.  Aguilera first got on the scene as part of the Mickey Mouse Club, along side Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and many other now celebs.

 

7. Mary J. Blige

In July of this year, Mary J. Blige opened up about her sexual abuse as a child on VH1’s “Behind the Music.”  She explained that the abuse haunted her for years and gave way to self-esteem issues. “When I was 5 years old I was molested and just, you know. I remember feeling, literally right before it happened, I just could not believe that this person was going to do this to me…That thing followed me all my life. The shame of thinking my molestation was my fault.  It led me to believe I wasn’t worth anything.”  Blige has used her hurtful past, and like many artists, found some healing in writing music.  Her expression through her songs is a healthy portal to let those feelings of anger, sadness, hurt, and neglect slowly disappear.

 

8. Missy Elliot

Missy Elliot, the recording artist, producer, singer-songwriter, dancer, actress and clothing line designer, is also a survivor of a childhood domestic violence. Particularly, her father was abusive towards her mother. Missy has not shied away from talking about those painful memories. In fact, she was named spokesperson for Break The Cycle in 2003, an organization dedicated to helping young people break the chain of domestic abuse.  For Missy, music was the escape hatch, her path to achieving the kind of dreams never even imagined.

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